It has long been acknowledged that squat exercises are probably some of the single most effective moves a man can perform to boost metabolism, build muscle mass and improve overall body strength in one compound move. Although effective, it is also important that the squats are performed correctly to avoid injury. There is also more than one method in working those lower body muscle groups than piling on the weights.
This is perhaps one of the simplest exercises to perform, and yet they are excellent in strengthening and conditioning the legs and the core muscles around the abdomen.
Standing facing a wall about arm’s length away, raise up slightly onto the balls of the feet and lean forward. Touch the fingers lightly onto the wall to balance the body and keep the knees slightly bent. From this position, squat down until the thighs are parallel to the floor, keeping the back straight, and push up with again until in the starting position.
This may not seem like a particularly strenuous move, but after around 30 of these, the legs will begin to feel the burn. Try to aim for 100 of these squats, and mix them up a little by increasing the speed and reducing the range of movement and depth of the squat. This is a great exercise to warm up the joints and strengthen the small groups of muscles that surround the knees.
The Third World Squat
Not a particularly well documented move, this squat takes its name from the way people from developing countries in the East tend to sit. Again, simplicity is the key here, but it is harder than it looks.
To begin, stand upright with the feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Then slowly squat down as far as possible, trying to keep the back straight. The idea is to descend into a deep squatting position where the backside is almost touching the floor while the soles of the feet are flat on the ground. If this is not possible, squat down as far as possible and hold the position for around 30 seconds. It will help the balance if the arms are extended slightly in front of the body whilst low to the ground.
The most well known of all the squat exercises for men, the barbell squat also carries the most potential for injury thanks to the equipment involved. Standing under a barbell at shoulder height, rest the bar on the shoulders and grip the bar well with the hands in a crucifix position. Slowly squat down until the thighs are parallel to the floor - it is not recommended to squat lower than this as damage may occur to the knees, but this is a point of debate amongst bodybuilders. Try to keep the back straight throughout the move and slowly return to the upright position. Do not lock the knees at the top of the move. Pause, then repeat. Breath control is important here, so try to exhale while squatting down and inhaling when standing up. If there is no one around to ‘spot’ you, try using a Smith machine to avoid injury.